Imagine my surprise the other night when watching the latest episode of “The Good Wife” and seeing two bona fide actors with disabilities playing two characters with disabilities. The bigger surprise was that neither character was inspirational nor sad and pathetic. They were just plain bad guys!
Michael J. Fox has a recurring role on this CBS Sunday night drama playing a lawyer with Parkinson’s disease. (Now there’s a surprise!) His character is masterful at using his condition to manipulate clients, judges, juries and other attorneys to do what he wants. There’s not much to like about him.
The other character is even darker: a young man with CP who’s accused of being involved in a website that sells drugs, guns and the services of assassins. He claims to be victimized by others and vows he didn’t do anything illegal. It turns out, though, that the soft-spoken young man, with crutches and horn-rimmed glasses underscoring his innocent appearance, is the mastermind behind the nefarious site, and even ordered the murder of another character.
Christopher Imbrosciano plays the online bad guy, who does his evil deeds from the basement of his rich grandfather’s home. The role could be — should be — his big break.
Christopher has acted in regional theater (“The Cripple of Inishmaan”) and has done some TV work (“Ben Comen” and “What Would You Do”) but his part on “The Good Wife” is the first role I’ve seen him in — and he was terrific.
According to his website, Christopher also sings (a tenor) and was in the off-Broadway and touring productions of “Inside/Out … Voices from the Disability Community.”
“Walking into an audition is a nerve-wracking experience, especially if, like me, you happen to have cerebral palsy, which affects your walk,” Chris said in an interview with American University Radio. “It’s usually the first thing directors notice, and it’s my job to convince them that my disability will not limit my performance.
“People with disabilities are people, which means they have a variety of experiences, and there should be a variety of representations in the arts and in media.”
That includes playing innocent-looking bad guys, which he does so well. And while we’re giving out praise, kudos to the writers of “The Good Wife” for creating such meaty roles for actors with disabilities.